Thinking Beyond Ourselves

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Here in the south, we are nearing the end of our summers. The school supply lists are beginning to circulate, and the very real start of school is looming on the horizon.

I have fond memories of starting back to school, and I try to pass that enthusiasm on to my kids. (Spoiler alert: it doesn't always work.) But more than excitement, I try and use Back to School time as an opportunity to drive home that we're all part of a much bigger village, and we all need to make an effort to take care of eachother.

Truth be told: if they take away that last thought more than the excitement of Back to School? I will consider my parenting a success.

Teaching kids to be grateful has often proven to be a fruitless endeavor, in my experience. Kids understand that they should be grateful, but until they have real world experience to stack alongside it, I can't begrudge them not understanding it. How can you describe snow just from a picture? You'd have to touch it, see it, smell it, right? Same with gratitude and giving.

Back to School has always provided us some great opportunities to teach how to give. Most local communities sponsor some sort of drive for supplies, and we participate for both boys. We'll pick up a "donor list" for each age range of the boys, and they boys have to pick out the things that go into that pack.

It's been kind of cool, to do this every year. The boys are - obviously - excited about picking out their own supplies for the upcoming year, but it's heartwarming how seriously they take picking out supplies for someone less fortunate. They're very purposeful, choosing color themes or fun additions that they think would be a hit. I would say that they put twice as much thought into the donated supplies than they do their own.

We've found other ways to impart lessons about giving to others. We routinely clean out the toy bins and we make it clear that these toys will go to kids who are in need of toys. (We have to be careful with this - our youngest will now give away his stuff to his friends because "they probably need it more"!) Our oldest has volunteered with local Special Olympics groups and inclusion classrooms. We feel pretty strongly that teaching kids now that we are all responsible for eachother isn't limited to an age or a time of year.

Have you begun to teach your child about the greater good? Any ideas?

SarahLena About :
Replies (41-50):
  • Reina13
  • by on Jul. 25, 2012 at 11:35 AM
  • I absolutely agree with this. 

    Quoting MamaBear2cubs:

    I think kids are really good about having a sense of greater good but it needs to be reinforced and encouraged.

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  • Reina13
  • by on Jul. 25, 2012 at 11:37 AM
  • That is wonderful!

    Quoting GypsiSky:

    Aside from spiritual values that we instill in our children from early ages, they each find their own path. My 8 year old daughter is looking to start her first charity this year.

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  • amyjane22
  • by Amy on Jul. 25, 2012 at 12:50 PM
  • That's a really great idea!  We've tried to teach our 5 year old about how great giving is, but he still doesn't "get it".  He's great about other values, though!

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  • itsblissmas
  • by on Jul. 25, 2012 at 12:55 PM
  •  This is really neat. I love when people do this!

    Quoting Reina13:

    We do the same thing. We buy donor lists for school supplies as well. During the holidays, as a family we chose a child from the Angel Tree. In addition, the boys will each pick out a toy to donate to Toys For Tots. We have always tried to instill in them at an early age, the importance of giving  back. They love to shop for these things. Knowing that somewhere out there, they made life just that much better for someone.


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  • LancesMom
  • by Member on Jul. 25, 2012 at 2:25 PM

  • Quoting GypsiSky:

    Aside from spiritual values that we instill in our children from early ages, they each find their own path. My 8 year old daughter is looking to start her first charity this year.

    This is awesome!

  • Quote Reply
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